8 Tips to Avoid Becoming one of ‘Those’ Photographers

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What type of photographer are you? A lazy one? A complacent one? Or maybe you are over confident? Here are eight types of photographers that you should avoid becoming.

#1 – The Jack of All Trades Photographer

It always makes me chuckle to myself when I ask someone what type of photography they do or want to get into, and they reply with a long list that covers every branch of photography. Think about it, if you wanted to get your teeth looked at, you would go to a dentist, not an optician or a chiropractor. Even general practice doctors who have a wide knowledge of most ailments would still refer you to see a specialist. This carries across every industry including photography.

You won’t find any photographer who is an expert in every genre of photography as there is just too much to learn, experience and practice at in anyone’s lifetime. While it’s important to have an understanding of how to photograph anything well, even the greatest photographers will specialize in a few genres.

For example, as a travel photographer, I need to be able to photograph food as that is a big part of any destination, or possibly the local wildlife. But I’m not a wildlife or food photographer. When you are at the start of your photography journey it is important to try as many different genres as you can until you find your passion and see where your skills lie. But once you do, try to focus your time and energy to being able to do that brilliantly, rather than doing everything in a mediocre fashion.

#2 – Mr. Latest Gear

You have all seen them. You probably actually know someone who has all the latest camera equipment along with a host of lenses, accessories, and possibly the clothing to go with it. But does it make a difference to their photos?

There is no doubt that better and more expensive cameras give you better quality photos and allow you more control. But a poorly composed photo which doesn’t have an interesting subject will be a bad photo regardless of the camera that captured it. So, instead of fretting over whether you have the latest camera equipment, concentrate on improving your skills as a photographer and not as a collector of equipment.

#3 – The Whirlwind

One of the things I find most astonishing and frustrating when I’m at a location is watching other photographers turn up (usually with the latest gear), take a few photos quickly, and then move on to the next viewpoint or location. I even remember seeing one such photographer hold the camera up and take a photo while looking in a different direction! Why even bother?

Even if you are pressed for time, often the best way to capture a great photo from any location is to pause for a few minutes. Just look at and think about the scene, the composition, the light and even the settings that you may need on your camera. Once you have surveyed the scene or the subject then go ahead and take the photo.

Not only will this give you much better photos in the long run, but it’ll save you having to rush around snapping away and hoping that you get lucky with a few shots.

#4 – Lazy One

Every photographer has been guilty of being lazy at some point in their career. Whether that is in the effort needed to take a photo (like having to hike somewhere, or wait for the light to change), in the process of taking the photo (“I’ll just put it on auto”) or in the post-production stage.

But often, your best photos end up being the ones that require the most effort. So don’t be the “lazy one”. In those situations where you are feeling lazy try and just push through it because the effort will likely be worth it in the end.

#5 – The Safe One

One of the great benefits of digital photography is that you are able to take risks with your photos as it doesn’t end also meaning that you are wasting precious film and money. Nowadays you can take a photo and if you don’t like it, you can just delete it and try again. But for many people, this is a benefit that is often overlooked. Most photographers (pros and amateurs) still work at achieving the “conventional” photo for that particular subject.

For example, go to any landmark and you will usually see hordes of people all standing at the typical “viewpoint” photographing at eye level. While I would always advise any photographer to capture these shots as well, the key is to not settle for the standard photo and try a few that are completely different. The worst thing that could happen is that the shots don’t work and you delete them. However, once in a while you might find an interesting new technique or skill that gives you something different.

#6 – The Too Arrogant Photographer

While I think it’s important for every photographer to be confident in themselves and their work, there is a big difference between being confident and being too arrogant. Photography is subjective and everyone will have different views, but listening to people who are knowledgeable or that you respect can help you really improve your work.

So don’t be arrogant, listen to the advice you are given. If one person tells you that a photo doesn’t work it could just be personal opinion, but if 10 people tell you the same thing maybe you should take notice. Often you will learn more from the poor photos you have taken, than the good ones.

#7 – The Freebie

Digital photography has revolutionized the photography industry for the better. But one aspect that it has had a detrimental effect on is the fees and payments that photographers now receive for their work. It’s no secret that fees and prices have been falling for a few years for photographers and big stock agencies such as Getty and Shutter Stock haven’t helped with the prices at which they sell photos.

But for most photographers the main aspect that irks them the most is the phrase, “We don’t have a budget to pay you, but we’ll credit you on the site/publication”. This would be the same as you getting a builder to work on your house but instead of paying them for the work you put a sign on your lawn saying, “The work was done by Mr. X”. You won’t find any builders who would agree to that deal, so why do photographers do it?

Exposure is usually the answer. But all this does is create a vicious cycle whereby you might receive exposure from that one client, but other potential clients will want the same deal which means all photographers end up suffering. If you don’t respect your work enough for people to pay you for it, then others won’t respect your work enough to pay for it either.

#8 – Mr. Rude

Like all professions, there are probably a handful of people who feel that just because they are taking a photo it gives them the rights to the land. Everyone has to get out of the way or stop what they are doing so that they capture the shot they want. Well, if you are one of these types of photographers then you should take a good look at yourself – because it doesn’t work that way.

Being a photographer doesn’t give you any more rights anywhere than the average tourist or spectator. It also doesn’t give you a right to demand people to give up their time to model for you. Unless you have hired the venue or that person to model for you then you just have to work your way around other people. If you don’t want people to be in your way, get up early in the morning when you can often get the place to yourself. If you want a clean and unobstructed view of something then be patient and wait for a gap in the flow of traffic. This extends to respecting other photographers too. Just because someone is a professional photographer doesn’t mean they have more of a right than an amateur one.

Show other tourists and spectators the same curtesy and respect that you would want to receive.

Conclusion

While not everyone will fall into each of these, most photographers at some point have been guilty of one or more of these traits. The important thing is so evaluate yourself and make changes as needed to make sure you don’t repeat them.

Are you any of those photographers? Or can you think of any others? Share your thoughts and experiences below.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Kav Dadfar is a professional travel and landscape photographer based in London. He spent his formative years working as an art director in the world of advertising but loved nothing more than photography and traveling. His images are represented by stock agencies such as 4Corners Images, Robert Harding World Imagery, Getty, Axiom Photographic, and Alamy and they have been used by clients such as Condé Nast, National Geographic, Wanderlust travel magazine, Lonely Planet, American Express, and many others.

  • jumbybird

    Don’t agree with the first one… as a hobbyist and occasional special occasion pro, I like to take any and all kinds of photographs… I shouldn’t have to pigeon hole myself to one specialty. If you look a any of my cards, photos range from portraits, to nature, flowers, rusted metal, street photographs, travel pictures… whatever catches my eye.

  • Is it me or did it just read like a frustrated rant? Don’t worry about what others are doing, concentrate on your own photography. It’s way less stressful.

  • Rodimus Prime

    Everyone has their own style, habits, and speed…who cares? I care about what I’m photographing…couldn’t care less about criticizing or opining on what others are doing. Just be polite, not overbearing or pretentious…and relax.

  • me

    For me the attitude in the writing of the author makes him fall into several of his own categories.

  • Sugata Banerji

    As an amateur I don’t agree with the first one. I have to be Jack of all trades (even if master of none, or master of just one) if I want to pursue my hobby along with leading a normal family life in accepted social circles. Of course, professionals will feel differently.

    The last one is one of my pet peeves too. I am amazed at the sense of entitlement some photographers express when they turn up at a crowded venue with a fancily dressed model and start shooing others around. Please, reserve the place or make do with me in your favorite spot.

  • Hi all, try and take the article a bit lighter, tongue in cheek, as it was intended. Thanks.

  • Mr. Fusion

    I would add that respect your environment is the most important thing any photographer should do. Be aware of where you are, who is there, and why they are there.

    Get permission in private places such as churches, schools, etc.

    If there are any signs that say “No Photography”, then ask where you might take photos and if non flash is allowed. Respect the rules.

    Always be aware if there are drops, stairs, lamps, fragile things, etc. that you might fall over or break.

    Don’t move in front of others and block their view. If you need to block someone’s view, be as fast as you reasonably can and apologize to those you obstruct. If you bump into someone or step on their foot, apologize and move out of their way.

    If you brought it, take it home with you. That includes coffee cups, food wrappers, cigarette butts, etc. If you move something, put it back. If you open a door, close it.

    Few things kill a photo session faster than being asked to leave.

  • Mr. Fusion

    You did good. I’m sure others might add a few more from their own experience.

  • Have to agree. It’s a bit arrogant telling people what they can and can’t be. Plus, I think most photographers just want to take a few pictures and enjoy them, not become the God of Photography.

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